A new Appetite for Latino News is growing, and the Latino Village is here to serve that Appetite
Jose M. Yrizarry, Columnist
EMPOWERING OUR COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS
ABOUT JOSE M. YRIZARRY: Former editor and writer for the New Tomorrow, a monthly newspaper published in the lower East Side in New York City. Recently joined the Buffalo Latino Village. Jose lives in Norfolk, Connecticut. Jose is also an established poet, author of two books of poems, is present in Youtube, and shares with work on Facebook where he has a large following. His work is available at Amazon.com.
Stop! Thousands of years ago, Jesus said “you will always have the poor.” Not much has changed but, accepting the stigmatic label of being part of broken homes full of lazy, addicted dependents often prone to crime and the exploitation of welfare opportunities is a grave error: You are not A repetitive, self-inflicted commodity to pacify with preordained meager rewards and punishments. That is what waits for many living below the poverty level! But it is your choice; to use or abuse resources and opportunities.
You are an intricate part of a “catch all” safety net protecting a necessary political economic monster seemingly out of control and driven by fear, resentment, and greed. But Jesus went further to urge the well off to “extend the poor a helping hand.” Perhaps, weathering out possible “anarchistic” effects from the great depression, Franklyn D Roosevelt’s 1936 “New Deal” sought to keep citizens above, not below the poverty level. Institutionalizing his economic relief package hurled the nation into Welfare Status. 19 consecutive Presidents have fought to better stay the course of intent with sweeping changes: Regan/mutual accountability, Johnson/The great society, Clinton/mandatory work, Obama/Health care. But, of 36 countries listed as Welfare States, recent global performance polls list America as 22 with France being number one.
But has the goal to protect and keep the national citizenship above the poverty level with temporary financial, education, housing and employment opportunities been met? Granted, where key institutions show signs of stumbling; financial aid keeps educational institutions alive, rent and food subsidies keep landlords, local merchants, and residents afloat as the “Hypocritical Oath” of the legal and medical machinery continues alive and well with steady pounds of fresh meat. Tax Dollars Unleashed! Yet with all the billions of dollars cited as a burden, only 8 % of the national budget is spent to keep the poor sucking Big Brothers Breast: Note! Only a Mothers breast gives free milk.
So, what happened to the other 92% of the budget? There is little argument against, or long-lasting mention of, how the welfare State also bails out negligent corporations (e.g., Wall Street, Banks, Real Estate, Car manufactures). Although President J.F. Kennedy’s 1963 speech specifically addressed the growing racial tensions of his time, he implicated and warned how individual and institutionalized social economic inequalities are culprits behind growing national disarray: “Legislation cannot solve this problem alone. It must be solved in the homes of every American in every community across our country.” His brother Robert Kenney added “We dissent from the sight of most mankind living in poverty, stricken by disease, threatened by hunger, and doomed to an early death after a life of unremitting labor.” No! You are not a burden but the fall out of a broken system in need of overhaul and occasional scapegoats.
Against such forces igniting fear of unmet future wants, present acts of greed warn “No man, family, or neighborhood can stand alone”. Within the blinding sand and muck of the welfare state, there are still pearls to harvest through strong local community boards and non-profit organizations striving to initiate responses to neighborhood needs. Help and utilize them. Striving to serve as necessary vanguards, they need the support of residents organizing block associations to present and defend their cause: Better Representation through Stronger Residential Unity! So, for you still seeking to rise and succeed remember, Jesus said “All things are possible for those who believe.”
When neighbors accept that “It takes a village to fully raise a child” STUFF HAPPENS!
I grew up on such a block, a village within a village. I got punished because of neighbors ratting me out whenever caught doing or saying something out of line. Neighbors shared resources as simple as cups of sugar or milk.
I did not like or understood it at the time, but remember: the name of the neighborhood cop that walked the beat and would take us to our parents instead of jail for trivial stuff, the mailman that delivered the mail with a smile, sprinkler caps put on fire hydrants for kids to cool off in the summer, and trees getting planted to beautify the blocks. That is what united block associations can do to hold community boards accountable to use available resources (city, state, and federal projects and funds) for the betterment of the whole community. Sure, there will always be a few bad apples in the barrel; a drunk, a junkie, and/or a thief here and there, but the barrel was still full of good ones to savor and get things done. That is the way we, the little people, can still be.
We are all feeling neglected and left behind, but the world is too small for saying “mind your own business” or “everybody looks out for self.”
onsider February and March as preparation to celebrate Easter, a day for resurrecting new attitudes and direction. Year after year we celebrate the birth, fall, and rise of Jesus on the scene without considering a practical, deeper meaning. He cried “I am the truth, the way, and the light”. Confronting political, economic, and religious corruption he cried “what you have seen me do you can do also”. As God’s creations, we are all called to be ambassadors for the cause: Love, Justice and Equality for all. We still face those same issues. Do not government officials need transparency (the truth) new direction (the way) and wisdom (the light)? Can’t our neighborhoods be a tightly bonded village committed to raising our children, the next generation destined to be our future leaders in government, business, church and so on? That is our job!
As vanguards, government and institutions are appointees meant to support and assure our efforts to achieve a healthy society. They were not meant to pigeonhole communities to pursue individual fame, power, and economic royalties. While there may be little we can directly do on their level, communities are still the backbone for a healthy society. We are a melting pot of different colors, races, religions, and economic standings meant to be promoted and protected.
Is that so difficult? Do not continue to be deceived into feeling hopelessly helpless. In his 1776 publication “Common Sense”, Thomas Pain sought a true democratic republic and sparked a united peoples revolution by urging the common, not the affluent, persons of the existing colonies (communities) to dispose (get rid of) tyrants (the powers that be) and demand independence (from political rhetoric and institutionalized inequalities). They pursued and manifested a new destiny with an evolving vision to continue fighting for.
Do not be blinded by the smoke of current bipartisan battles for power while forgetting our daily needs. This is a perfect time for local communities to flex the muscles of people power. A more peaceful and harmonious future relies heavily on the next generation needing local role models to follow.
It is not rocket science. It is Common Sense!
TURNING THE PAGE
February 2021 Issue
Valentine’s Day! Make it an everyday event and collectively “Love Thy Neighbor as thy self.” Along with getting a new president, give your community a new Manifest Destiny.
Originally coined by journalist John O’Sullivan in 1845 to mean “expansion of colonial borders”, the term eventually came to mean “everything on this side of the hemisphere would be Anglo, protestant, and English speaking.” The ending days of the Trump era revealed that, to many, such mind set is not only alive and well, but expanding.
Together with the 1823 Monroe Doctrine warning war with anyone attempting to encroach on, or interfere with the national agenda, look at your community. Is not the process of disinvestment and reinvestment displacing low and middle-income families and small businesses? If you do not harmoniously unite and protect your borders, the process of community gentrification will eventually feel like genocide. And make no mistake, it is a growing process in the making. Face it! If you do not collectively stand and fight for what little you have here and now, where will you go? If you do not love your neighbor, who will love you?
There will be big regrets in having bought into the “Me, Me” mindset that says; “As long as it’s not happening to me, it’s none of my business.” So, as another one bites the dust, let Mrs. Jones get evicted, let Mr. Chen lose his business, let Pedro get fired, let Abdul get falsely arrested, let our children – the next generation – suffer the consequences. How many “Let’s” will it take to realize that if it is happening to anyone, it will eventually get to you?
Yes! While what is happening on the global and national level is an important indicator of what is coming our way, now is not the time for feelings of hopeless helplessness. There is plenty that needs and can be done within the limits of our own community borders. And it is not so hard. With a simple informative community publication, healthy block associations can rise to make strong community boards able to identify and address common issues that may often require help from elected officials. Allow yourself to imagine how, under a simple but solid game plan, elected officials would be more inclined to listen and be sensitized into action. For example, instead of protests that can often be weathered or lead to violence, why not have an egg moment; where injustice arises, let the collective fling eggs or water balloons at the culprits. While many will call it dangerous, how harmlessly funny, exciting, and empowering it can be. It might be one of many creative ways to steer focus away from anger and hate. It might change the wording from civil “disobedience” to civil “resistance.”
Extra! Extra! Read all about it! While marshals sought to serve an unfair eviction, or the police go ballistic during an arrest, or local officials turn a deaf ear, some neighbors hold a sit-in while others throw eggs and the rest go viral with their cell phones. Imagine, media would have a field day picnic…
Point! America is burning and in need of drastic measures. So, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, let us be the fire extinguishers — one resident, one community — at a time.
NEW YEAR, NEW DEAL?
Happy New Year! It’s done! The ballots have been tallied, verified, and announced. On January 20th Biden enters as the new landlord and Trump exits as the delinquent tenant. But things seem far from over. Trump is not thinking of willfully vacating. So, forget the drama and simply unleash the marshals with a court ordered eviction for negligence. Like any of us, should not he be subject to arrest for trespassing? More so, shouldn’t his refusal to relinquish power be considered an act of mutiny, a crime punishable by death?
But let us wake up and face it; dominating the national discourse like no one before “Trump has been allowed to reshape the global office and shattered its century-old norms and traditions”. Fearing what is supposedly waiting, he even seeks pardoning himself from any pending prosecutions. Funny how they call it an “assault on the institutions of democracy” without mention of “the people these institutions are intended to protect and provide for”.
So, what have we learned and what can we do from here on out? Should focus be on what is happening in the political arena? They will continue justifying what they want. Although change of command implies a change in direction and investment – do not expect a magic fix to the current social economic hardships. Rather focus on how their actions will affect community needs and resources down the road.
There are too many details regarding what is happening and still to come. Clearly, things will never be the same. But, while we live within a politically charged matrix with many moving nuts and bolts, we do not have to re-invent the wheel. We just must get back to the basics and tighten the spokes. And that is what we have elected local assembly and counsel men/women for. They are the eyes, ears, and mouth to not only present and champion our needs, but to keep us informed as well. What we need are communities full of block associations to strengthen local community boards to enforce accountability.
Real community change starts and ends with individual families making choices that can change the “me” to a “we” able to forge common causes, like the corona vaccine and the national relief plan, to fight for. Can it be that simple? It can be!
Creating and supporting an “interactive” community newspaper like this one (Buffalo Latino Village) can go a long way. Not only would it establish a platform to exchange information, opinions, and ideas, but foster the communication and compromise necessary to maintain a focus to collectively address immediate common local concerns (e.g., loosing local small businesses not only furthers the unemployment crisis but continues to make the threat of hunger and eviction a daily reality). More so, involving residents in the operational needs of such a newspaper would not only assure circulation of pressing matters but would promote a well-needed sense of ownership, control, and personal empowerment as well.
So, come on people! Trump has been just a wakeup call. Forget the debate as to whether current circumstances are coincidental or part of a well-planned design. It is time to manifest a new destiny – one family, one community, one paper at a time.
ELECTION OR DIVINE
The American President! The promise of equal protection and opportunity for all! Really? Then how is it that regardless of all the negativity surrounding Trump the Chump, our president, our commander in chief and alleged role model, acquired near half the nation’s vote for a second term. Trump has famously survived one impeachment, two divorces, six bankruptcies, twenty-six accusations of sexual misconduct, and an estimated four thousand lawsuits. Behold! our new, “Wanna Be” Teflon John Gatti.
This election was too close to call it “a people’s victory.” The thought that trump almost won again is scary. No doubt, aside from the present pandemic, Biden is in for an uphill battle regarding the state of a nation dramatically divided by economic disparity and racial tension. Face it, this election is proof that the population is split right down the middle and on the verge of near all out confrontation. Once again, the historic racial divide has reared its ugly head, keeping its presence alive and well. With the existing tensions, the American melting pot is ready to boil over from civil unrest into an all-out civil war. Is that not why the powers that be got its militia ready to face potential rioting were Trump to win. Make no mistake, we are in dangerous waters. Biden and the population are sitting on a powder keg ready to explode. For shame people!
Without breaking the existing commitment to party lines – Biden will face the very same dilemma that happened to Obama – getting stone walled by party bids for power and control. Without breaking the convenient public state of herd mentality (when people are led to go just because everyone else is going), YOU the public are conditioned to go after issues again and again with or without understanding as much of the details as possible. How else can a candidate with a history of criminal tendencies, inappropriate use of power, and clear promotion of racial tension, be given a platform for the presidency in the first place?
So, was it the election or divine intervention that has temporarily delayed the castration of the American population? For now, the forces of good have temporarily taken the upper hand. But much has been revealed regarding the present condition and direction of the nation. Make no mistake, the forces of good and evil are battling to tilt the scales of righteous equality and justice. By holding on to his seat, Trump thinks of himself as the Teflon president able to have his own escape plan from prosecution. Don’t let him or anyone else ever get away with white collar crime.
It’s not over! Hold him accountable.
There is a breach in the system. Somebody on the ladder (counsel men -assembly men – senate and congressman – mayor and commissioners) is not getting community issues done. Would you pay for faulty products when you shop? Do you pay for services left unfinished? Ok! Then let’s fix the dilemma! In addition to senate and congressional votes, let the peoples’ needs be known. Are civic officials truly representing the people, or are their hidden agendas out the community reach?
One thing is for sure; the tension of racist law enforcement tactics have shown what people power can quickly accomplish. People got fired! People were brought on charges, with some even facing jail time. Was that an isolated incident or a blueprint to apply to other matters? Imagine grassroot community organizations rotating daily protest in front of an officials office delivering ultimatums: PUT UP OR GET OUT!
Sounds good! Well impeachment should not stop at the presidential level. It should be applied to any civic official not doing their job; assuring community needs are heard and their tax dollars are properly being allocated. Of course, we have to consider how a community agenda fits within the bigger picture. But does the bigger picture have to be a hungry lion devouring community needs as if they were just bones to chew and spit out? No! Those community bones have meat! And that meat has a voice!
What if this publication went as far as to issuing out a community survey to find out where people stand on these last few issues (empowering grassroot community organization, withholding taxes, impeachment) Would you answer the call? This is not a debate about the old saying “what’s the point, they don’t care and will do what they want.” This is not about THEM! It’s about US; make no mistake, we are in a state of emergency.
Consider and share this for discussion. 8 billion is the global population danger zone; the Earth simply can’t keep up with the human need for survival. How can we prevent this? Could the current pandemic be an answer with every nation sharing/contributing to getting rid of 1 billion + people. Do the math! At present the current population is 7.8 billion.
The current covid-19 deaths rate stands at 692,000 +. The current global population growth rate is 42,000 +. How long will it take to eliminate 1 billion people? Well perhaps that’s how long it will take for officials to release the cure/vaccine. Need I mention the specific types of populations targeted for genocide? With adults, not children, being the sacrificial lambs, the elderly are on the top of the list of expendables. So called minorities, especially those socially dependent and addicted have to be on the list of liabilities. Shall we discuss this???
EMPOWERING COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS
Did you wonder how your taxes are spent only to feel helpless. Ever wonder how much of your tax dollars pay for sustaining the lifestyle of civil servants in the Senate, Congress, etc? You won’t believe how much. If officials were listening to the cry of their constituents, “enough of President Trump” (a strong opinion shared among many everyday people), how is it that the Senate, (representing the peoples’ voice), can refuse to impeach the president? Obviously, either somebody is not listening, or somebody is not screaming loud enough. If they are not listening to that cry, can you expect such officials to listen to community cries for local services? It’s time help empower good-old grassroot community based organizations (CBOs) to lead the way, to enable them to take actions beyond simple protests, and begin dethroning procedures against negligent officials — Officials entrusted with the obligation to insure that community or local needs and concerns are in good hands.
Such actions require time and money,often not available to grassroot organizations. But if fighting for a legal community grievance is governed by affordability, then let the government foot the bill! If a difference arises between community and some civic service/servant requiring court preceding’s, let the whole community withhold state and federal taxes; open an account, place the taxes in it, and let “grassroot community organizations” finance what needs to be done. If ousting a negligent civil official becomes necessary, then letting them hide behind a community’s inability to afford the time and money is more than unfair. It’s another form of dictatorship — Capitalism! Face it, if you don’t want your taxes spent on things like the military or paying exorbitant expenses on civil servants, if you prefer seeing it spent on something locally being overlooked, why not pay your taxes to a local community trust fund for CBOs to address those needs? You are still paying taxes! As a matter of fact, I doubt such actions must be carried out. I believe that the threat of a resolved people taking such action would suffice. Consider the following: There are already 7 states (Alaska, Florida. Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, Wyoming) running their infrastructure without income tax. It took some thoughtful dialog among minds far more in depth than mine or yours. Surely, there are places on the internet to get all the relevant information on the “how to.” Believe me, what little I was able to get was not only fought for by tooth and nail, but had little to offer as well. It took a lot of digging to come with things like …“Tax withholding refers to the portion of an employee’s gross wages that is retained by an employer for remittance to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)” and “Two main types of taxes are typically withheld—regular income taxes and Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA) taxes”…
I also found something interesting: “Exempt income is any income that isn’t subject to federal tax. The types and thresholds for exempt income can be changed through the political process.” So, let us press the political process. However, we are not supposed to fully understand and carry out the involved mechanics for solving issues. That is what officials are paid for, to restore/maintain and/or repair/replace whatever! You pick it! And push for action!
THE NEED FOR COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT
In more ways than one, its hot! The desire to stay indoors nice and cool (for some) is strong. Global pandemic threats to take one’s life, and change the course of human history, makes staying home easy.
But what of the natural need for human interaction? What of the potential increase of varied forms of addictions: drugs, alcohol, and gambling to ease boredom and near forced isolation/incarceration. What of the potential for suicides due to isolation and financial hardships? It happened during the great depression. If there is still a belief in a higher power – let God help us all!
Government leadership is in a strangle hold due to partisan ideologies having little to do with public concerns. With media’s bombarding daily issues impeding on the sense of security, can we count on voters casting informed ballots during coming elections? Make no mistake “America is burning!”
It’s time for “we the people” to turn to and empower grassroots community organizations (CBO’s) to take actions beyond simple protests and begin threatening to dethrone negligent officials entrusted to assure THE PEOPLES overall social needs are met. Trust is earned, not given!
Am I promoting anarchy? Certainly not! We need leadership. We need people of great integrity, resolve and humility to occupy public office. Delivering needed community services is their job! Would you accept poor service when you shop or pay for a service left incomplete. Public officers aren’t supposed to be in “private clubs” for the “good old boys” to enjoy power and exchange favors. They are there to exercise their power to assure community well-being.
The pressing question is HOW? How to hold these “officials” accountable? We need stronger CBOs to assure community issues are presented and heard. Leadership today feels seemingly insulated from the threat of immediate impeachment Thus, people feel stuck with wrong selections. People have the right to submit impeachment proceedings against any official when necessary.
Media should report on-going public updates until the presented issues are resolved. That would put heat on civil servants to deliver and avoid bad publicity. Is this the answer? it’s a good start! Empower CBO’s and may God help us all play our rightful roles!